But while many people were pleased by Moore’s arrest, it’s important to note that revenge porn itself is often legal … as is much of the Internet’s filthiest filth. And while Moore may be stranded offline in Sacramento County jail, scores of similar characters are still waging campaigns of hatefulness on other blogs, Web sites and Internet forums. In fact, the Internet teems with other candidates for most-hated man:
Roosh V: While Moore has been accused of incidental misogyny, Roosh V — a D.C. native! — has been far more explicit. Valizadeh owns the website ReturnofKings.com, which advocates for gender roles even ’50s housewives would balk at and bans “women and homosexuals” from commenting. Recent articles include the charming “5 Reasons to Date a Girl With an Eating Disorder,” “Don’t Work for a Female Boss” and “Biology Says People on Welfare Should Die.”
Matt Forney: Forney, a blogger and member of the Valizadeh school, proudly crowned himself the most-hated man on the Internet after his argument “against female self-esteem” went viral last fall. Forney is a professional Internet troll, and has actually published a book to that effect. Publishing blog posts with titles like “Why Fat Girls Don’t Deserve to Be Loved” is, apparently, a profitable enterprise.
Fred Phelps: Phelps and his clan at the Westboro Baptist Church may qualify as America’s most-hated people, both on the Internet and off. The WBC is infamous for its homophobic, semi-deranged protests at funerals, synagogues and other public places; in recent years, the group has also famously taken to Twitter and Vine to troll the sanity out of anyone who chooses to listen. They, like Hunter Moore, have repeatedly been the target of attacks by hacktivists and other online vigilantes.
Michael Crook: Crook used to run Web sites dedicated to calling for the death of American soldiers and shaming people who frequent Craigslist’s casual encounters page. Now an ordained minister, Crooks hasn’t exactly changed his ways: he continues to preach, in real life and on Twitter, that rape and the Holocaust are both fictions and that only white heterosexuals should be married.
Don Black: The ironically named Don Black was a Ku Klux Klan leader before he founded the Internet’s first hate site, Stormfront.org, in 1996. As of 2008, Stormfront had more than 130,000 members. Black later renounced his views on white supremacism, but not before Stormfront’s forums had become a hotbed for racism and hate.
Mark Marek: Marek, the proprietor of preeminent shock site Bestgore.com, was charged last year for “corrupting morals” after he posted video from a gruesome murder scene. Such videos are, of course, not terribly unusual on Bestgore, which specializes in “graphic material” from murders, suicides and accidents. Such material is, as Marek has bragged, often legal in both the U.S. and Canada, which made his arrest particularly unusual.
Sean Bucci: Bucci purportedly owns the controversial Web site whosarat.com, appropriately named “the unethical Web site of the month” upon its launch in 2004. The site, based in Boston, posts information on suspected government informants. It belongs to a sketchy and unreliable group of shaming Web sites that “out” people for offenses they didn’t commit — see Cheaterville, et al.
Of course, we all know that freedom of speech has its dark side, both on and off the Internet. But the problem with Internet hate, in particular, is that current law doesn’t quite protect against it — cyberstalking statutes are weak, responsibility is hard to prove, law enforcement doesn’t understand it … the list goes on.
Even Hunter Moore, when he was finally arrested, was arrested for hacking and identity theft — offenses that really have nothing to do with the fundamental problems of revenge porn. That doesn’t make his opponents any less happy to see him in jail, of course. But it should serve as warning, too: Other Internet villains are out there, and without stronger laws, they’re just waiting to follow in Moore’s wake.